Antivilla - Krampnitz - Germany
Instead of demolishing the vacant factory and building a small weekend villa in its place, the much too large existing structure remains. It is stripped down to a raw structure and equipped with a new flat roof. Some windows are coarsely widened to provide views of the landscape. The new use occupies just a small portion of the space, leaving the rest untouched and open.
Lots of green, lots of water, and plenty of rest – Krampnitz lake offers weekend and holiday vacationing close to Berlin. Three cottages overlooking the lake could have been built on the site of the former garment factory VEB Obertrikotagen Ernst Lück.
Yet two years after the site’s purchase, the two existing buildings pegged for demolition are still standing. And they will remain – one of them as Antivilla, which questions as well as redefines the notions of luxury and comfort.
It was the architects themselves who purchased the property and opted to preserve the two buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1980s.
The demolition costs were spared for budgetary reasons, and the existing structures are being used instead. But it is also a matter of space: according to the local building code, only 250 square meters of floor space across three buildings may be newly constructed on the site. The two existing buildings, however, offer approximately 500 square meters of floor space each. This luxury of space was offset by the expenditures that would normally have incurred from the energy upgrade needed for the two non-insulated buildings.
The architects’ response was to reduce the need – in this case, to seasonally adjust their use. How much space truly needs to be habitable throughout the entire year? At the Antivilla, it is fifty square meters – and only so much will be heated in the winter with the help of a sauna. There are no interior walls; instead of a costly thermal insulation, the architects have chosen to install curtains like onion skins around the central area of use. This enables the open floor to be reduces, partitioned, and expanded, layer for layer. This type of zoning is made possible partly through the waterproof, concrete slab that replaces the asbestos filled, corrugated Eternit roof. Its statics allow for the reduction of the inner walls except for the service core, along with generous windows openings in the outer walls.
In the summer of 2012, the architects announced a “knockdown”: together with friends and future users they knocked holes in the walls that were subsequently closed from the inside with glass panes. The rest of the façade and the coarse, gray-brown East German plastering remain unchanged. This, too, was a reduction of needs – forgoing all decorative elements also saves resources. “The added value is created by making new things, but by doing less” explains Arno Brandlhuber about his reductive approach. “We aren’t investing in insulation, but rather in the pure space”.